Having returned to Bengaluru on Tuesday after this participation in the French Elite National Swimming Championships at Limoges, France, Olympian swimmer Srihari Nataraj is eagerly looking forward to representing the hosts Jain University at the upcoming Khelo India University Games 2021 in Bengaluru.
He said, “The next few months leading up to the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games will be quite exciting for me as I plan to race in different meets each month and Khelo India University Games is one of them. Swimming good races without any tapering in the lead up to Commonwealth Games and Asian Games will help me analyze where I stand in my preparations.”
“This will be my first appearance at the Khelo India University Games and I am quite excited about swimming in front of my home crowd. I am doubly excited to swim at the Jain University Global Campus where I have been racing since I was eight or nine years old. I remember we would have a competition every year at the Jain University Global Campus and I would represent my School Jain Heritage. I have some very fond memories of swimming in that pool, especially in my formative years as a swimmer. The campus has a great atmosphere for sports,” stated the youngest Indian swimmer to have made the Olympic Standard Time.
Srihari further stated that he looks forward to tough competition from Punjab University, which won the overall championship in the inaugural edition of the Khelo India University Games in Odisha and also Anna University, Chennai which has a good swim team.
“I will be swimming some sprint events which include 50m backstroke, 50m breaststroke, 50m freestyle and 100m freestyle apart from relay events. I think racing against Anna University’s Adithya Dinesh will be quite accelerative, especially in the 50m freestyle event. We both train together and we almost clock the same time (23 seconds). I expect the relays to be game-changers in the swimming discipline at the KIUG 2021 with Universities sending their top swimmers,” he added.
Though Srihari did not have the best outing in the recent French Elite National Swimming Championships, he believes there were some important takeaways from the meet in France.
He said, “I was racing for the first time since the Senior Nationals last October. Although I didn’t swim my best times in 100m backstroke, I did well in the 200m backstroke clocking 2:03.27 and missed out on a medal in 50m backstroke by 0.2 fractions of a second. I was not tapered for this meet and might start tapering just before the CWG. After the KIUG 2021, I will race in Monaco next month,” stated Srihari, who was the star performer in Khelo India Youth Games 2018 and in 2019. He used this platform to step up his performance and become a potential medal-winner at the Asian Games 2022 for India.
“I still remember the first Khelo India School Games in 2018, Delhi where I won 6 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze. It was my first experience of a multi-discipline sporting event and it was very memorable. It is great that young athletes are getting this kind of exposure, it surely helped me build on my performance,” he concluded.